IOC president arrives, eager to get started

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IOC president arrives, eager to get started

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach arrived in South Korea on Tuesday to inspect preparations for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“It’s a great pleasure to finally arrive in Korea,” Bach said upon arrival at Incheon International Airport. “I look forward to the Winter Olympic Games with great anticipation.”

Later that day, Bach traveled to Jinbu Station, located in Pyeongchang County, using the new KTX high-speed train.

“I have heard over the days and months so many excellent reports about the work of [PyeongChang’s organizing committee],” Bach said.

“We can say the stage is set and now we’re looking forward with great anticipation and with great excitement to a wonderful Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The Korean people know that the world is looking on Korea and that the people all over the world are enthusiastic about the news from Korea.”

Bach said he plans to meet with the staff of the local organizing committee as well as some athletes of the South Korean national team. The IOC president also shared his enthusiasm about South Korea’s first Winter Games next month.

“You see the athletes arriving,” Bach said, “you see the snow, and everything is falling into place now.”

Bach will tour the competition venues and Olympic Villages. He is set to chair the IOC’s executive board meeting and its general session from Feb. 3 to 8.

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, set to run from Feb. 9 to 25, will be the largest Winter Olympics in history, with 2,925 athletes from 92 nations set to participate in 15 sports.

It will offer a record 102 gold medals, 70 in snow events and 32 in ice events.

The host, South Korea, will have a total of 144 athletes participating in all 15 sports, while North Korea will have 22 athletes competing in five sports. On Sunday, the IOC approved 169 Russian athletes to participate in 15 sports as “Olympic athletes from Russia.”

In addition, six countries — Malaysia, Singapore, Equador, Eritrea, Kosovo and Nigeria — will participate at the Winter Olympics for the first time.

On Jan. 20, Bach chaired a meeting of representatives from South and North Korea and produced a landmark agreement on a joint Korean march at the opening ceremony and a unified women’s ice hockey team.

The IOC approved a unified women’s ice hockey team, with 12 North Korean players and one official from North Korea added to the South Korea’s 23-woman roster. Though the IOC allowed the unified team to have 35 players, they can only use 22 in each game.

Aside from the unified women’s ice hockey team, the two Koreas will walk together during the opening ceremony under the Korea Unification flag, but the flag will only be used at the opening ceremony and athletes will compete as separate countries in other sports.

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